David Livingstone Centre Visitor Guide
David Livingstone Centre Refurbishment Work
The main building at the David Livingstone Memorial closed on 30th September 2015 for extensive renovation and refurbishment work. It is not expected to reopen until 2018. There will, however, still be exhibitions and functions taking place in the extensive grounds during this time and checks should be made for current events prior to arranging a visit.
When Henry Morton Stanley uttered those immortal words, "Dr Livingstone, I presume?" no one could surely have imagined the extent to which they would be recorded for posterity. The man whom he was addressing in darkest, deepest Africa was the Scottish missionary and explorer, Dr David Livingstone, who is now immortalised by the David Livingstone Centre in his hometown of Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, just outside Glasgow.
The museum is comprised of the building where Livingstone was raised with his siblings in a single room, a building which at that time was home to more than twenty other families. There is also a modern, dedicated visitor centre, cafe/restaurant, conference facilites and extensive grounds to explore.
Please note that this page is primarily about the David Livingstone Centre, rather than the life and experiences of Dr David Livingstone, the man. If it is information on David Livingstone and his life you are seeking, the links below are provided specifically for your convenience. Then again, why not read on a little bit first and see the one time home of the great man for real...?
- David Livingstone 200 - Bicentenary of the Birth of David Livingstone
Celebrating the bicentenary of the birth of Dr David Livingstone. Join us in rediscovering a man whose life and legacy has spanned continents.
- BBC - History - Historic Figures: David Livingstone (1813 - 1873)
Discover facts about the Victorian missionary Dr David Livingstone who explored Africa. Find out why he was a national hero.
How to Get to the David Livingstone Centre
The David Livingstone Centre is easily accessible by road and by rail. It is a few minutes' walk from Blantyre Train Station, to which trains run from Glasgow Central and Glasgow Argyle Street up to four times an hour at peak times. The journey time is approximately twenty minutes. There are also train services from many other Lanarkshire towns. Buses operate from Glasgow Buchanan Street Bus Station and from around Lanarkshire. The Centre is only a few minutes by car from Junction 5 of the M74 motorway.
David Livingstone Centre Grounds and Parkland
One of the first sights that will greet you when you enter the grounds of the David Livingstone Centre is the superb statue/representation of David Livingstone being attacked by a lion in Africa in 1844. He later claimed that the lion shook him, "As a terrier does a rat," and he was not only scarred but slightly disabled by the attack for the remainder of his life.
You will clearly see the original building in which David Livingstone was raised and immediately next to it, the modern building that is the visitor centre. The latter also contains the restaurant/cafe, where meals and snacks are available. The children's play area is also adjacent to the visitor centre.
Between the visitor centre and the David Livingstone museum is the entrance to the Explorers' Garden. This is an area containing many tropical plants not native to the UK, so although better visited in the summer, it is an interesting short walk at any time of the year.
David Livingstone Visitor Centre and Cafe
The David Livingstone Visitor Centre is located immediately adjacent to the main museum. This is where tickets for entry to the museum must be purchased in advance, though entry to the grounds is free. Information literature on David Livingstone and wider visitor attractions in Scotland are all available.
David Livingstone's One Room Childhood Family Home
There are many different displays and exhibits contained in the museum building of the David Livingstone Centre. It is the small room which was David Livingstone's childhood home, however, which many may find to be of most interest and this is of course the reason why the memorial as a whole exists today.
It will be difficult for an overwhelming majority of people who visit to imagine a family of ultimately nine living in such a small space. The living quarters consisted essentially of two curtained bed chambers, a range/fire/cooking area, a table, a chest of drawers and one storage cupboard. It is humbling to see and certainly lends a magnificent insight to the origins of the boy who became the man that was Dr David Livingstone.
David Livingstone Centre - General Exhibits
The exhibits in the David Livingstone Memorial are many and varied and are all included in the purchase price of the ticket from the visitor centre. There is only one point which you should carefully note in advance: at one stage, you will walk in to the darkened corridor and that is deliberate in relation to the exhibits. Take a few seconds to let your eyes adjust before you proceed. It makes life much easier.
Memorial to David Livingstone's Final Resting Place
David Livingstone is buried - like so many other British luminaries through history - in Westminster Abbey, in London. There is, however, a section in the museum which contains a replica of the stone which covers his grave and a humble cross made from the wood of the mvula tree, under which David Livingstone's heart was buried after his death before his other Earthly remains were brought home to the UK.
© 2013 Gordon Hamilton